It’s no surprise that there are many talented professors here at Boston University. One professor in particular, Joshua Duttweiler, uses his own professional experience in design to teach COM students graphic design skills in his class Design Strategy & Software. Duttweiler’s experience comes from working on individual projects in photography and design. His first solo photography exhibition, GROWN, was on display at the East Boston Community Gallery from November of 2018 to February of 2019. I had the chance to visit the exhibit and take a closer look at his impressive collection of photos.
Upon arriving at the gallery, I scanned my ID in a black box to unlock the door and step inside. The gallery itself is a sleek, modern space surrounded by tall windows that boast a beautiful view of the waterfront. As I walked into the room, I immediately noticed Duttweiler’s photos hung across every wall, and a description of the exhibit posted on a white wall in big letters that read:
Many organic forms compose this ground you and I occupy. The two most
prominent of these are human beings and plants. Inseparably symbiotic, plant life
has sustained us from the dawn of time. As we have cultivated its growth, nature
has nourished ours. We have worn it, eaten it, built with it. We have planted and
transplanted it. We crave it. Some of civilization’s most heart-stirring sonnets and
breathtaking compositions have been inspired by nature’s rapturous beauty. Yet,
our modern context has separated a union we once shared. What was an
entangled unity has now been unraveled and interrupted. Grown seeks to restore
the nature of what once was, to remind man of his impact on vine, and to revive
an understanding of our dependence on one another.
When asked to elaborate on his inspiration for GROWN, Duttweiler said, “I’ve generally been very interested in the aesthetic similarities between plants and humans. There are some interesting organic shapes that are both similar and different in those two categories.”
It was incredibly fascinating to experience this concept come to life through the pictures. I first started at the entrance of the gallery and made my way through, stopping at each photo. Each photograph was composed of either one or two models with plants, vines, or flowers draped around their bodies. In some photos, the models posed in front of a simple studio paper background, and in others, they posed in front of a metal ladder or staircase. According to Duttweiler, he used these backgrounds purposely because he “wanted a rougher environment to extrapolate the contrast of beautiful organic forms and spaces that are more hard-structured.”
Under each photo, there was a small card indicating the size, price, and date of the photo. All of the photographs were dated from the summer of 2017.
“It was at least two months that led up to the shoot where we had to get everything together,” said Duttweiler. “The shoot happened in one day, a ten hour day, which was pretty fun, but it was definitely aggressive. Editing images took awhile, and then I was reaching out to lots of different organizations, businesses, publications, and this gallery took it.”
Duttweiler described seeing his first exhibition finally coming to fruition as “wild,” and said that he is already working on his next project, which will possibly take place again in East Boston. Duttweiler remarked that he likes how the East Boston art scene is making “space for new artists.”
The East Boston Community Gallery, located at 126 Border Street, East Boston, is free and open to the public daily.
More information and installation photos about the GROWN exhibit can be found at: https://www.joshuaduttweiler.com/grown
Leslie Oh, Staff Writer
Leslie Oh is a senior at Boston University who is majoring in advertising with a minor in international relations. She has lived in Connecticut, Korea, and California, but hopes to start her professional career in the Big Apple after graduation. She enjoys exploring new cuisines around the city and watching cooking videos online. Her biggest guilty pleasure is watching reality television shows of all sorts.